Airlines, cruise lines and hotels are suffering from a sharp reduction in demand from travelers, but Americans are, perhaps now more than ever, seeking to escape the mundane confines of their homes as much of the country remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. And so they are renting — and buying — camper vans in order to safely explore new territory while maintaining their social distance.
Wade Jorgensen, who in late 2018 founded Sunstorm Vans, a van rental business in Los Angeles that rents vans for around $150 per night, said he's seen an uptick in rental demand in recent months for the vehicles that he buys and retrofits with custom interiors. The surge in interest marks a 180-degree turn from the way things were going when the coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States, and 100 percent of his customers cancelled their bookings.
"The spring was really bad. I lost every single reservation I had for the entire 2020 calendar year in March. It was devastating, and I didn't know how much longer the business would survive if we couldn't get any rentals on the calendar," he told CBS MoneyWatch.
Jorgensen applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan to help tide him over, but it took months to be approved, and the terms of the government-run program were unfavorable, in his opinion. He turned down the loan in hopes that bookings would again resume — and they have: Since May, he reports, he's fielded one request after another.
"The demand went through the roof, and I am now booked out through September, because everyone is traveling but people don't want to fly or stay in hotels," he said. "They want to self-isolate and be safe, and they can do that in a van or RV. I can't build them as fast as I need them," he added.
Check out the full article from CBS News here.